About ten years ago I read Michael Schumacher's biography, "Francis Ford Coppola: A Filmmaker's Life". I so enjoyed the book that I read it a second time right after I finished it.
For me, Coppola is the greatest American artist working in film. While I have great admiration for the likes of Kubrick and contemporary artists like Paul Thomas Anderson, there's something special and unique about Coppola. Some friends sent a link to this short video clip and it sums up some of what makes him so amazing.
Eleanor Coppola came to San Francisco State University (Francis' brother August Coppola was the Dean of the School of the Arts) and spoke to the cinema department back when I was a student there in 1990 and she showed parts of her documentary "Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse". This is still the single greatest documentary on the art of filmmaking. It rivals the actual film.
I set out to make a documentary myself following an artist who was working in cinematic forms, using Eleanor Coppola's film as a model and ispiration. But the artist I was following never showed the passion, sensitivity, humanity or vunerability you see in Coppola which is what makes him so relateable as a subject. When analyzing these differences, I realized that I could never make an honest film without alienating the subject and the project was shelved.
About once a year I go back and watch "Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse" as a way to connect back to my passion for filmmaking. This little clip is a great synopsis of the film and its overarching message.